SINGAPORE — Singaporeans remains the “happiest” people in Asia, although the degree of happiness has dropped over the last year, according to the latest World Happiness Report released on Monday (March 20).
The Republic was ranked 26th out of 155 countries in the 2017 World Happiness Report, falling four spots from its 2016 ranking. Singapore’s overall happiness score has also dropped by 0.068 points to 6.572. Norway, which placed first, had a happiness score of 7.537; while the least happiest country, the Central African Republic, scored 2.693.
The World Happiness Report, published by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network, measures each nation’s “subjective well-being” by asking citizens to rate their life satisfaction on a 1 to 10 scale. The report also uses statistics like the country’s economic strength, life expectancy and perceived corruption to try and explain why one country may be happier than another.
Scandinavian countries dominated the top, with Norway, Denmark and Iceland heading up the rankings, while Finland was placed fifth and Sweden came in 10th. Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand and Australia rounded up the top 10.
Meanwhile, countries in sub-Saharan Africa and those hit by conflict all fared poorly. The bottom 10 comprised Yemen, South Sudan, Liberia, Guinea, Togo, Rwanda, Syria, Tanzania, Burundi and the Central African Republic.
In Asia, Singapore came in ahead of Thailand (32nd), Taiwan (33rd), Malaysia (42nd) and Japan (51st). Countries are ranked using three-year averages of data collected with the latest report, in its fifth edition, covering 2014-2016.
The United States fell one spot to 14th, and Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, predicted that President Donald Trump’s policies are likely to make things worse.
“(Trump’s policies) are all aimed at increasing inequality — tax cuts at the top, throwing people off the healthcare rolls, cutting Meals on Wheels in order to raise military spending. I think everything that has been proposed goes in the wrong direction,” he told Reuters.
Prof Sachs added that the report’s aim is to is to provide another tool for governments, business and civil society to help their countries find a better way to well-being.
“Happy countries are the ones that have a healthy balance of prosperity, as conventionally measured, and social capital, meaning a high degree of trust in a society, low inequality and confidence in government,” he said.
According to the report, the top four happiest countries ranked highly on caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance.